Leadership Progress for Women Stalls Globally

6th March 2020

Posted In: Be In The Frame

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Grant Thornton International released its 2020 Women in Business report. The survey provides insight into the views and expectations of around 10,000 businesses across 32 economies.

According to the report 78% of mid-market businesses globally are actively working on removing barriers to gender parity at senior levels.

Globally the number of businesses driving initiatives such as ensuring developmental opportunities (34%), creating an inclusive culture (34%) and flexible working (31%), have all seen an increase across all those measured by the report. However, progress for the representation of women in senior leadership positions has stalled. At global level, women currently hold 29% of senior leadership positions – the same as last year. However, the results for Ireland indicate that our country is above the global average with 31% of women in leadership roles.

According to the report 18% of Irish businesses in 2020 still have no women in senior management roles, an increase from 8% in 2019, and 17% of businesses have just one woman in a senior management role. Of those in senior management roles 20% are registered as Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director and 35% are Chief Finance Officers.

When asked what action their business is currently taking to improve or preserve the gender balance of their leadership team, in Ireland, 38% have enabled flexible working, 28% are reviewing recruitment approaches and 22% are offering unconscious bias training.

Sasha Kerins (pictured), D&I lead, Grant Thornton Ireland says: “It’s really important to have females on the strategic committees that are driving our organisations and are making the decisions. Improved gender balance filters down from the way your senior committees are running the business. The balance at board level is really important to make real change.

“At Grant Thornton Ireland we are bringing women in on the leadership journey at a much earlier stage and making them see that it’s achievable, that they can be a senior leader within the organisation – and what’s required to get there.” Sasha added.

With many mid-market businesses now being intentional in their efforts to boost equality, markets may start to see more women in leadership positions overcover the coming years as initiatives are embedded and begin to show results.

Significant global findings:

•29% of senior management positions within mid-market companies globally are held by women

•87% of businesses have at least one woman in senior management

•78% of mid-market businesses are actively working on their gender balance. Common initiatives include:

– Creating an inclusive culture (34%)

– Ensuring equal access to developmental opportunities (34%)

– Enabling flexible working (31%)

– Reviewing recruitment processes (26%)

– Mentoring/coaching (26%)

– Reward for senior management linked to targets (23%)

– Gender quotas (22%)

– Unconscious bias training (21%),

•The number of women at CEO level has increased from 15% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, while those in CFO roles has dropped from 34% in 2019 to 30% in 2020.